Tomb of King Munmu, Silla’s Underwater Tomb

Tomb of King Munmu is an underwater tomb of Silla located across from Bonggil Beach in Gyeongju.
It is also the only underwater tomb in the world and has historical significance.

Located 200m away from the shore of the East Sea, this tomb, which is that of King Munmu, the 30th king of Silla (661-181), is the world’s first submerged burial place. Succeeding King Muyeol, King Munmu completed the unification of the Dynasties by defeating Goguryeo in 668 and driving out the Tang Dynasty of China. He provided the foundation for completing the national system by establishing the government offices Byeongbu and Changbu, the administrative district 5 Sogyeong for ruling the local area, and the military systems 9 Seodang and 10 Jeong. This submerged tomb is made of unpolished natural stones and equipped with 4 channels in 4 directions. The water flow from the east channel to the west channel makes the level of water inside the tomb constant. The remains of King Munmu are believed to have been buried under the tortoise-shaped rock lying underwater with length of 3.7m from south to north and width of 2.06m. According to Samguk sagi (History of the Three Kingdoms), the king willed that, in conformity to the Buddhist canon, his body be cremated in a simple funeral and buried under the East Sea, and that he be reincarnated as a great dragon to defend Silla from invaders. King Sinmun, the son of the king, ordered the construction of Gameunsa Temple near the East Sea, which has a waterway to the East Sea under the main hall. The waterway symbolizes the dead King Munmu’s pathway between the sea and the temple. This submerged tomb, the only one of its kind in the world, is an excellent relic showing the creativity of the Silla people.

from Cultural Heritage Administraion of ROK
Tomb of King Munmu

Tomb of King Munmu is located across Bonggil Beach.
Even if you visit Bonggil Beach, it is difficult to see exactly what Tomb of King Munmu looks like because you have to see it from a distance.
You can find detailed photos of Tomb of King Munmu in this link.

Controversy over Tomb of King Munmu

Controversy continued over whether King Munmu’s remains and relics were contained in the rock.
No relics or remains were found in the 2001 survey.
Instead, it was confirmed that traces of peeling rocks were found and artificially created.
It is presumed that the ashes were sprayed on Tomb of King Munmu after cremation.

Bonggil Beach

Bonggil beach
Bonggil beach
Bonggil beach

Tomb of King Munmu can be said to be not a popular tourist destination in Gyeongju, but it does not mean that there are few visitors.

Bonggil beach is a great place to see the sunrise and a place where you can see Tomb of King Munmu and is often visited by shamans.
In particular, many people come to pray because King Munmu has become the guardian deity of the East Sea.

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